It’s that time of year again, when many people reflect on what redemption means. For those who practice Lent, this may mean taking part in fasting or giving something up. For many who don’t religiously participate, the Lenten season may still be a time of reflection. These challenging times are especially focused on what it means to be set free, both literally and spiritually.
Last night I had a nightmare that my husband, oldest daughter and I were in a car that was flung off a cliff. As the car descended, I told both of them that I loved them, and I reflected that I had a good life, if this should be the end. But I prayed frantically for a miracle. Then we landed- onto a thick black mat that seemed made of melted rubber, like children’s indoor commercial play-area flooring. The mat was floating on foamy water, as part of a landfill. Our car was nearly on the center of the mat. We had survived! My dream self said, (because we are alive) “We must be here for a reason.” Then, my awake self thought the same thing: We are alive. We must be here for a reason.
I spent the day doing more than I usually do. I am grateful to be here. Let every moment we’re here be heavy with purpose. May we treasure our time and our energy, lest our purpose be frittered away by the manufactured realities that others push on us. We were made for so much more than this. This Lenten season, let us reflect on what mercy is, and know that we are loved by God.
Well, it happened again. You might remember that I was shaken and unnerved by signs from beyond, messages that made me look into the possibility that someone I knew had died? And yes, someone had- less than two weeks prior, a person in my family connections had passed away. I talked about this in post “On my Mind” and then “Shocking Update“.
So, it was an anxious awakening this morning when I woke from a dream that featured my deceased mom- and someone she knew, who I was close to. It was my childhood dance teacher, who was my teacher for eight years, from age 10 to 18. At age fifteen, I was in a white water rafting accident. I was later hospitalized for frequent daily seizures resulting in paralysis/weakness, and I overheard a doctor say that one day I’ll never get out of that (wheel) chair.
But my dance teacher held my spot open in my dance routines. She visited me at the hospital, dressed as a clown and gifting me with balloons- the good kind, helium filled, which was expensive and a luxury treat back then- and she told me I’d be back in class dancing again.
It took a lot of hard work, but I was on stage performing just a few months later. She awarded me a trophy. The best of all is that she believed in me. The above painting “Miracle Dancer” is inspired by my journey recovering from the accident.
I hadn’t thought of her in a long while, and when I awoke this morning I was distressed about why I’d be dreaming about her. In the dream, we were sitting at a table, talking about Mom, as if my dance teacher was seeing Mom again, or something- I’m not sure. But I knew her clearly to be my dance teacher and it was as if no time had passed between us.
Later this morning, I was still upset about the dream, knowing what these dreams have meant in the past. So I did an Internet search and the results popped up instantly- her obituary. My dance teacher died three months ago, too young to have died from old age. No cause of death was listed. She is the fourth person I personally know who has died within the past 6 months. None of these people died from old age.
Imagining our life connections as a web, strings of my (our?) web are being cut. I have a horrible feeling that this is not the end of these cut strings. I don’t have any anxiety about myself or my immediate family, but I do have a bad feeling about my more distant relationships, acquaintances, neighbors, community, nation, and world.
More about these dreams:
I’m an observer in these unsettling prophetic or message type of dreams (of which I’ve had several; they are always accurate, so I get upset when I have one). The style of dream is very different from a regular dream, and I wake up knowing it’s some sort of distressing message. I know during the dream and after that the message isn’t about me, but involves whoever or whatever is in the dream. Sometimes my dream self can interact, other times I’m on the outside of the scene- I can see the others, but they can’t see me and I can’t interact with them. Either way, I’m an observer/outsider. The premonition doesn’t involve me, other than being upset by a loss or upcoming loss when I wake up and remember the dream (sometimes I have a dream shortly before the person passes, other times shortly afterward, within days, weeks, or a few months).
I realize I should add- these dreams are peaceful, gentle, and the people in them are warmly enjoying conversations with others (sometimes including me, usually not), or are otherwise happy. It’s just that I can recognize that these people are gone (from this world), and that’s what gets me so unnerved. These are not nightmares. These dreams are calm and pleasant, as if the people are showing me that they are well and content, and they are still connected to the people they knew.
It’s me who responds by feeling distressed, but the dreams are meant to be healing I believe. I also feel compelled to share the dreams and their outcomes/updates, as these mysterious events may be comforting to others who wish they had glimpses of the other side. I feel absolutely certain that life goes on beyond. Somehow we are still connected and one day we’ll understand that love is forever.
Even with that hope, I’m really rattled by this one. I can’t believe she’s gone. I feel like I should be able to search for her name and get a different result. But I know what I read is true. When I read about her life, I wished I’d heard the update during a catching-up chat, not by reading her obituary.
I was recently in contact with one of her family members and now I know I’m meant to reach out to that person. It seems these dreams/outcomes end with giving me an “assignment” that is meant to help or comfort someone who needs me. So I will do that.
When I uploaded this one to YouTube today, I was thinking about how art is a language that fills in the gaps. How can we think with both emotion and logic at the same time? How can we see the science of DNA while also seeing the divine hands of our Creator? The painting of the baby in this video is just blobs of paint, but when arranged a certain way, our brains see a pattern that forms a picture, and we understand what the paint is showing us.
So many times, we try to communicate our feelings about the Miracle of Life, and it may come across as only science, or only emotion/abstract/spiritual. It may come across angry or judgmental. But what if we could express ourselves in colors and movement? Maybe then we could express harmony, passion, and a true love for humanity: goodwill and sovereignty for all living beings.
This painting was inspired by a rare snowfall in the Deep South (Savannah, Georgia), the first year we moved here. Of course it would snow! It would have been the first year of my life to live in a place that doesn’t snow, and yet it snowed, just like it had in Ireland where it can be somewhat rare to get measurable snow. It seemed that endless winter followed me wherever I landed. I was born in upstate New York where we had “lake effect” snow which resulted in snow banks so high that it was impossible to see cars coming at a crossroads. I remember a snowy day when the snow was up past our front door and it was hard to get out. I lived in places in the Midwest and up North in Minnesota, where it was not uncommon for snow to start in October and the last snow to drop in May! I grew to feel despair when winter was settling in.
So, I was looking forward to something new. Funny how the locals all told me that it “never” snows in Savannah (untrue, it snows every few years). It was amusing and not surprising that my arrival felt like the reason why it snowed heavily that first winter, between Christmas and New Year’s. It was a blessing for us, as our son was upset about no snow and was having a hard adjustment in general. It was as if by a miracle it snowed in the Deep South. It was a Christmas present to our family and helped us through that first winter.
Finally, the following year here in Georgia there was no snow for the first time in my life, and hasn’t been since. But, it’s cold tonight and there is a possibility of dropping temperatures below freezing. This may be another rare Southern winter in which there is measurable snow. We shall see!
Well, I said yesterday that I’ll know soon if the ant sting/bite attack was going to be miserable, and it is. My foot is very swollen and I’ve been hobbling along because any weight on it makes it throb with a horrible combination of stinging, itching, and pressure. It’s not too worrisome though- it seems no worse than the last time this happened. It’s definitely not a condition that will put me in a wheelchair, as I’d experienced after my white water rafting accident when I was 15 years old (and recovering from the injury the following year).
Even though I know this is a temporary setback, I tend to be an active person and it’s driving me crazy to be forced off my feet for longer than I’m used to. If I would be willing to sit still, my foot would probably not be as swollen, but I get so restless and it’s hard to just sit here. I still managed to do most of the things I’d planned to do. It sure makes me appreciate that most of the time I’m healthy and mobile, as there was a time when I wasn’t, and there was a possibility that I’d be in a wheelchair for the rest of my life.
I’m very grateful for the times in my life when I’ve seen a glimpse of something horrible and was saved from it. I’m also grateful for the times when the horrible things happened, but I was given the strength to get through it and the peace to heal from it. Sometimes a nuisance crisis like an allergic reaction to insect bites is a stark reminder of how vulnerable we are, and how it’s a miracle when we have a pain free, active, healthy day. It’s a miracle just being alive for one more day. What shall we do with this blessing?
Believing in miracles, prayer, faith, self-belief, confidence, positivity, a determined spirit – all of these things can lead to amazing outcomes. But, as we exist in the human condition of mere mortals, we do not have a perfect, immortal life on this earth. There are times when we don’t get the miracle we long for, and for those times, sometimes the only miracle we can have may be peace. When we are at peace with what is, and what can never be, we are delivered from the worst parts of grief and suffering. So even when we don’t get the deliverance we hope for, we are delivered through hope itself – hope of a beautiful future in the next life, and courage to power through whatever we are dealing with in this one. But, sometimes we DO get what we want. For those times when we receive the miracles we pray for – REJOICE!